Thursday, June 23, 2011

Israel, Day #2

Day 2.
I woke up very rested and happy.  Breakfast with cheese stuffed pastry and watermelon.  Yum.  We met back with Danny and walked back into the Old City through the Shouk and towards the Temple Mount.  Today was Danny's day to be angry.  Things just were not working out for him.  At the entrance to the Temple Mount, we found out I was inappropriately dressed.  My shirt was too "skinny."  Looking at the pictures, I think they meant “see-through,” which irritates me because I definitely teach in that shirt… Anyway, in order to stay we had to buy a scarf for 10x its worth.  Danny was furious because after buying it, the vendor said that Danny was working for a commission and didn't tell us on purpose.  What a jerk - the vendor, not Danny.  Focus.  Focus.  The Temple Mount is where the Temple used to stand.  It is a huge open plaza with a mosque in the middle (hence the need to be modest).  However, we couldn't enter either the mosque or the Dome of the Rock (where Mohammed went up to heaven and returned) because we are not Muslim.  We toured the whole area anyway.  It is gorgeous.  Back into the Old City and we saw the Burnt House.  It is a house from the time of the Second Temple that has been excavated.  I think someone's house is above it and this was in the basement when they dug to do renovations.  It is very interesting; you can clearly see the different rooms in the basement as well as some of the objects that were there.  Then lunch.  Schwarma.  Delicious.

After lunch we did some speed shopping on the way back to the Western Wall.  We prayed.  And then did the Western Wall tunnel tour.  We walked the entire length of the Western Wall in the tunnel beneath the city.  It was very cool, both in temperature and the amount of history we were able to touch. At the other end of the tunnel we met back up with Danny.  He didn't do any of the guided tours with us, duh it would be boring for him or he would correct the other tour guide.  Makes sense to me.  On the way we found an African Catholic church with a beautiful garden.  Then we visited the church at Gethsemane, where he prayed and was arrested.  Of course there is at least a 300-year gap between when it happened and when the church was built, but it was a beautiful church.  Then up the Mount of Olives we went for the view and to sift through dirt from beneath the Temple Mount.  There was an emergency exit created a few years back that removed 10 truckloads of dirt without any archaeological supervision.  We found tons of pottery, glass, and normal rocks.  We also found mosaics, marble, and I found an animal tooth and a glass bead.  Final stop of the day, Zedekiah's cave used by the Free Masons, but before that it was a quarry.  The thought of carving stone out of a cave and bringing it up to the surface sounds awful.  Glad it is not my job.  The story is that they used the area as a quarry and then later Zedekiah hid in there while the city was besieged by... someone else...  Anyway, it was very beautiful and cool inside the cave.

Hotel. Shower.  Dinner - I had goose, Matt had fish.  It was one of the more delicious meals we have had here.  After dinner, we went back into the Old City to David's Citadel for a light show.  I can't tell you anything about the show because it didn't make sense, so I fell asleep. The Citadel is an old fortress that was built where the Romans thought David's palace was.  They were way off.  The fortress was very neat with nooks and crannies, the way it should be.

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